Women, Nation and Patriotism in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815)

TitleWomen, Nation and Patriotism in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAaslestad, Katherine, Karen Hagemann, and Judith Miller
JournalEuropean History Quarterly
Issue4 (Special Issue)
Date Published10/2007

The articles in this special issue of the journal European History Quarterly challenge us to rethink the conflation of masculinity, citizenship and warfare during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic conflicts. The period has long been considered a foundational moment of modern state-building, nationalism, and political rights. Yet if scholars of the era have identified key transformations in understandings of gender in many areas of late eighteenthcentury life – labour, the family, legal codes and cultural practices – the place of women in the period’s warfare has not received the same attention. Across Europe, the drafting of constitutions and civil codes, as well as the critical role played by both men and women in civic activities and political clubs, forced those societies to ponder the limits of the equality that new ideologies proclaimed. Warfare, which altered everyday life as it recast the relationship between the individual and the state, offers an extreme vantage point from which to consider the gendered nature of citizenship at the turn of the nineteenth century. While combat had always been primarily a masculine activity, the nascent vision of the citizen – a committed and active defender of the nation – raised precisely the question of whether female loyalty to the country would entail the same responsibilities and provide women the same rights as their husbands, brothers and fathers.

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